Foods that fight inflammation:
Harvard Medical School
Doctors are learning that one of the best ways to quell inflammation lies not in the medicine cabinet, but in the refrigerator.
Your immune system becomes activated to protect your health when your body recognizes anything that is foreign—such as an invading microbe, plant pollen, or chemical. This often triggers a process called inflammation.
However, sometimes inflammation persists, day in and day out, even when you are not threatened by a foreign invader. That’s when inflammation can become your enemy. Many major diseases —including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s—have been linked to chronic inflammation.
One of the most powerful tools to combat inflammation comes not from the pharmacy, but from the grocery store. “Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects,” says Dr Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Choose the right foods, and you may be able to reduce your risk of illness. Consistently pick the wrong ones, and you could accelerate the inflammatory disease process.
Protect your health from the risks of chronic inflammation with these tips from Harvard doctors.
Not surprisingly, the same foods that contribute to inflammation are generally considered bad for our health, including sodas and refined carbohydrates, as well as red meat and processed meats.
“Some of the foods that have been associated with an increased risk for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease are also associated with excess inflammation,” Dr Hu says. “It’s not surprising since inflammation is an important underlying mechanism for the development of these diseases.”
Unhealthy foods also contribute to weight gain, which is itself a risk factor for inflammation.
Include plenty of these anti-inflammatory foods in your diet:
* Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards
* Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges
Fruits and vegetables as a whole are high in natural antioxidants and polyphenols—protective compounds found in plants.
* Nuts like almonds and walnuts
Studies have also associated nuts with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
*Coffee, which contains polyphenols and other anti-inflammatory compounds, may protect against inflammation, as well.
* Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
* Olive oil
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To reduce levels of inflammation, aim for an overall healthy diet. If you’re looking for an eating plan that closely follows the tenets of anti-inflammatory eating, consider the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils.
In addition to lowering inflammation, a more natural, less processed diet can have noticeable effects on your physical and emotional health. “A healthy diet is beneficial not only for reducing the risk of chronic diseases but also for improving mood and overall quality of life,” Dr Hu says.
Information summarized from:
Harvard Medical School
Updated: August 13, 2017, Published: June 2014
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